Zero-waste refers to principles of minimizing waste production as much as possible. The idea of zero-waste is to produce as little waste as possible. Then, with any waste that is generated, compost, reuse, or recycle whatever is left.
Throughout history, zero-waste living was the norm. Rewearing your clothing, preserving food or eating all of the food you purchased, hunted, gathered, or grew, repairing tools and furniture, and reusing items as much as possible were typical for many people. Before the rise of plastic production in the mid-20th century, many people naturally followed a zero-waste approach to waste management. Human dependence on plastic, a material that doesn’t easily or quickly break down, has left us with landfills and oceans full of trash. As plastic use increased in the 1960s, humans began quickly generating massive amounts of trash. A rise of “throwaway” culture took hold, where people found convenience in tossing out plastic dining ware or food packaging. Waste ends up in landfills, polluting cities, and ecosystems, or floating in garbage patches in the oceans. More resources are required and more emissions are emitted as humans source materials and make more and more goods for people to buy.
Repairing and reusing your items, recycling, composting and refusing excess items you don’t need, all have many benefits. These actions can save individuals money and even generate more jobs for local economies compared to conventional disposal, while also saving Earth’s resources, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving relationships within communities. From connecting to the farmers that grow your food to redistributing excess goods throughout a community, zero-waste living can strengthen relations and social equity within communities.
There are many ways to start down the path of a zero-waste lifestyle. While recycling old papers or composting food scraps are a good start, there are many actions you can take collectively to reduce your impact and inspire governments and businesses to create policies around and invest in a circular, more sustainable economy.
Reducing the amounts of goods we consume, and waste, is a critical step in zero waste. When it comes to refusing, you can practice saying “no” to any unnecessary items, like plastic utensils with your take-out food or free plastic pens from the bank. Single-use items are designed for convenience, but they also amount to a lot of waste.
While recycling is an important component to zero-waste living, the focus should first be on reducing consumption, reusing items you already own, and repairing broken items first. Recycling is a second-to-last resort before sending anything to a landfill.
Zero waste can seem daunting, but simply being more mindful about purchases and taking care of the things you already own is a great start, and the impacts will only grow the more you practice.
You can start with our plastic free reusable recyclable products for your home, office and personal care.
Say No to plastics, Say Yes to Life, Earth Thanks!